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Henry Hitchcock (1792 – 1839)
Henry Hitchcock (1792 – 1839)
Henry Hitchcock was born in Burlington, Vermont on September 11, 1792, the son of a judge and the grandson of Revolutionary War hero, General Ethan Allen.  He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1811.  He then began the study of law and was admitted to the Bar in 1815.  He left home that year and arrived in Mobile, Alabama in January, 1816.  He immediately opened a law practice but soon moved to St. Stephens, capital of the Alabama Territory.

He was appointed Secretary of the Territory which required him to perform the duties of the Governor in his absence.  He represented Washington County in the State Constitutional Convention of 1819 and together with two other delegates did most of the drafting that led to the first Alabama Constitution.

When Alabama became a state, Hitchcock was elected its first Attorney General and he moved to the first permanent capital at Cahaba.  In 1822 he compiled the first book published in Alabama entitled: “The Justice of the Peace”.  In 1825 he delivered an address of welcome to General Lafayette upon his visit to the Alabama capital.  Lafayette later paid him a personal call because he had known Hitchcock’s grandfather, Ethan Allen.

When the capital was moved to Tuscaloosa in 1825, Hitchcock returned to Mobile.  He was appointed U. S. Attorney by President John Quincy Adams for the Southern District of Alabama.  He served in this capacity until 1830.  Then in 1834 he was elected an Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and in 1836 he became Chief Justice, resigning in 1837.  In 1839 he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives but died 6 days later due to a yellow fever epidemic which struck Mobile.  He was 47 years of age.

At the time of his death, Hitchcock was remembered as a respected lawyer, a dedicated public servant, and a philanthropist.  He assisted in the construction of the Barton Academy in Mobile, the first free public school for poor people in Alabama, and he contributed almost the entire cost for building the Government Street Presbyterian Church in Mobile.

Henry Hitchcock was an outstanding early Alabamian who contributed to the betterment of his adopted state.  He is now a member of the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.

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